Colour: Farrow & Ball’s shades of 2017 (and how to use them in your home)

March 10, 2017

Farrow and Ball colour forecast 2017 Studio Green

Image: Farrow & Ball

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Walking along the road from Parsons Green station yesterday, passing my old school, which I haven’t seen for 18 years, I was struck for the first time not by feelings of panic, dread or rebellion (though I’m sure they’re buried there somewhere) but by how much I had enjoyed being educated in the grounds of such a gracious set of Georgian and Victorian houses. It may be because I was on my way to a Farrow & Ball colour event with high tea to boot, but I spent much of that walk thinking about what I’d loved architecturally about my school, remembering the school library well with its old wooden bookcases, sash windows and views over the green, or the very pretty garden through the main arch before the tennis courts, and I wondered how much this had informed my sense of aesthetic since. I’m not sure that I’ve ever really felt that I had taken much from my formal school experience, it was a pretty mixed one, I made some wonderful lifelong friends but the culture of competition (in every aspect) had been stifling for me, it was a very pretentious state school with selective intake, and not one I would choose for my own child, but today I was struck only by its aesthetics, which are very lovely indeed.

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Farrow and Ball colour forecast 2017

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So, architecture aside, it was with great relief that I turned the corner and found myself in a very different but slightly intimidating other grand setting, The Talisman, an absolutely incredible trove of vintage antiques in a converted Art Deco car showroom on the New Kings Rd with a collection of pieces by the likes of a Pierre Cardin & Etergere to name but two. Luckily for me this beautiful setting didn’t come with exams or prefect places, but an afternoon tea and colour talk, though I was a little worried should I spill said tea on some priceless antique or other! Sometimes, at blogging events you really luck out and get to see fantastic places, hear and meet truly inspiring creative people that you can then share on the blog. At the Farrow & Ball colour trend forecasting event, the setting was incredible and Joa Studholme, colour consultant at the company with over 20 years experience and a paint on the chart in her name (Joa’s white), was a truly inspiring expert. She had our coterie of bloggers hanging on to her every word, learning from her wealth of creative experience and most of us contemplating re-painting our homes in light of her advice! (If you’re reading this Dan, I promise not to start painting a single room, well not straight away). I took pages and pages of notes on Joas wisdom, which I will be bringing you in a separate piece on colour choices soon, but today I want to talk about Farrow & Balls selected colours for 2017. 

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Talisman London, antique design furniture pieces sofa

Sofa of my dreams at The Talisman, a millennial pink beauty and is that a Hay coloured background I spot behind?

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Now, you may think that all this colour forecasting that bloggers go mad for discussing is yet another bit of fluff developed by companies to get their colours in the zeitgeist and on our radars. This may or may not be true. I’m pretty sure international Colour agency Pantone’s Greenery for 2017 isn’t going to light up our lives (or our walls) anytime soon. However, when Farrow & Ball want to talk about colour I’m always listening, they have filled my home with so many shades I’ve fallen irreparably in love with, so I headed over keen to hear more. Studio Green – one of their four picks (which has been on my wish list for a while) was obviously going to be my outright winner (or so I thought) and I was quite sure I wasn’t going to like Hay – too yellow, too drab, too reminiscent of magnolia gone off for me. In fact Joa’s expert eye has persuaded me that I want to paint with Hay, like really commit (I know! More of that later).

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Farrow and Ball colour forecast 2017 Joa Studholme colour masterclass

Joa in full flow, explaining the six Key F&B neutral base palettes.

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So the choice. How exactly are these decisions made? I always envisage men with beards in smokey rooms with graphs drawing up mathematical equations that reduce our personal preferences down to no more than an indicator on a marketing graph. But, like much in interiors trends, colour forecasting has everything to do with feeling, the current landscape and how we are reacting in our heads at the moment with pretty distinct and tumultuous times. So when looking at the ways in which we may use colour this year, F&B put comfort at centre stage, a way to retreat from the outside world  if you like. The range, which comprises All White, Hay, Radicchio and Studio Green, are all colours that feel incredibly familiar. Joa says that they are comforting because they remind us of our past, of bygone ages and will help bring a natural feel into our decor.

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Farrow and Ball colour demonstration, shades that work with Studio Green

Farrow and Ball colour demonstration, moodboard showing the shades and papers that work with Studio Green.

Farrow and Ball colour forecast 2017 Studio Green

Image: Farrow & Ball

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First up, Studio Green. Now, although I eschew Pantones lime-infused privet-hedge bright ‘greenery’, green is definitely the colour of the moment. Farrow & Ball’s green is, by contrast to Pantone, a very inky dark green, it has more than a hint of black to it which makes it a murky deep green. Having painted our study last year in the ubiquitous Downpipe, I’m all for very dark and moody cocooning tones. Joa calls it a charcoal green which is a pretty perfect description, she says that it is unapologetically clubby (gentleman’s, not raves you understand) and suggests that it never be teamed with bright white. Instead Joa suggests using Farrows Cream, White Tie or New White. Have a look at the picture (top above) to see how these shades work when used next to each other, they let the green breath. With bluer toned colours the green will start to recede, becoming black even, I know this because I have a natural aversion to yellows and creams so came home and tried out other options from their colour chart and Joa is quite right the cooler tones seem very off by comparison. If you are a little scared of these deep, dark colours, Joa suggests painting areas below the eyeline, this allows them to recede and doesn’t feel intimidating but still allows you to express colours you are drawn to, perhaps a kitchen island, below a picture rail, on a bath tub etc.

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Farrow and Ball colour forecast 2017 All white

Image: Farrow & Ball

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Next up is a shade of white devoid of any pigment other than white itself. It is not a bright white, or an architectural one, it’s not a hard colour, as such it lends itself to a fresh and natural feel. It is a neutral which is very suited to layering and comparable to the far darker Downpipe as the perfect backdrop to both natural materials and artwork. Accents and accessories should pop to take centre stage against this shade. Joa recommends teaming this colour with Strong White, Cabbage White and Great White.

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Farrow and Ball Hay against Oval Room Blue & Setting Plaster

The perfect mid-century palette: Oval Room Blue, Hay & Setting Plaster

 Farrow and Ball colour forecast 2017 Hay

Image: Farrow & Ball

Farrow and Ball colour demonstration, shades that work with Hay

Farrow and Ball colour demonstration, moodboard showing the shades and papers that work with Hay.

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Next up, is the showstopper for me, I had a feeling that Raddichio may be the surprise of the day and steal my heart, but in fact this very unassuming yellowed shade of – lower your eyes – magnolia (shh! I promise never to use that word on here again!) stole my heart when Joa started layering it with some of my very favourite shades. Joa describes this shade as soft and familiar with a quiet feel to it, a shade that is muted and feels aged, yellow, but not at all sunny. All so far so average you might think. Or at least I did. Then she started to layer it up with other F&B shades and it came alive. First up Oval Room Blue which we have in our hallway and I absolutely love, second Setting Plaster which was a strong contender for our recent bedroom refresh (post coming soon) and finally Wimborne White which is a colour I liken to semi skimmed milk and have used a few times in the past. These colours together create the perfect, slightly girly but still sophisticated, mid century palette, or maybe something even earlier. I see girls getting ready for dances in Nancy Mitford novels when I see these shades together, and I am absolutely charmed by the combination. But where to put it? We have just got to the end of decorating, and I’m in danger of death by the sharp blunt end of a rolling pole for even uttering this, but I’m really keen to try it out somewhere in the house. Perhaps, for the sake of my marriage, I will upcycle a piece of furniture with these colours first and see if it assuages my curiosity. I will keep you posted on how it goes (the colour, not the state of my marriage that is).

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Farrow & Ball colour forecast 2017 Radicchio

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Final colour in the selection is the brightest and boldest of the shades, Radicchio which sits somewhere between a bright Burgundy and beetroot in my eyes, though its namesake is obviously from chicory. This is Farrow & Ball’s next step on from the pink phenomenon. Joa explains that she see’s our collective pink attachment as a solution of tenderness to the amount of time spent on the hard flat surfaces of blue technology these days. Radicchio she describes as a clean and bold colour which is filled with defiant optimism. It’s a really beautiful colour, not one I would naturally choose but one I could see amongst whites and greens, perhaps in a bathroom? Joa’s recommended shades for this are in the grey spectrum and Radicchio really pops against them, try Moles Breath, Purbeck Stone and Ammonite (our new bedroom colour).

What do you think? Are there any of these colours you’d like to give a try? Are you a colour lover like me with an aversion to neutralised yellows who is persuaded by Joa’s palette combination? I’d love to know your thoughts. Final pictures of the incredible wares at Talisman and Afternoon tea (I know, it’s making me hungry too!).

 Farrow & Ball afternoon tea Talisman London, antique design furniture piecesTalisman London, antique design furniture pieces classical

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